Meeting was convened to elect members and chairmen of the five standing committees
Congress-led group was set to capture majority in all standing committees
But Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department directed CEO to postpone meeting
GULBARGA: The abrupt cancellation of the general body meeting of the zilla panchayat triggered protests and a dharna by the Congress and its associate members here on Thursday.
The meeting was convened to elect members and chairmen of the five standing committees of the panchayat.
The Congress, after gaining the support of the breakaway Janata Dal (Secular) and independent members, was set to capture a majority in all the standing committees and secure the chairmanship as well. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its associate members in the panchayat, who were outnumbered, reportedly managed to get the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj to direct chief executive officer Anbukumar to postpone the meeting.
The terse three-line direction signed by the Director of Panchayat Raj and ex-officio Joint Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, Govindaraj, said that the general body meeting should be postponed since the Assembly was in session and it could be held on Saturday.
Mr. Anbukumar, quoting the direction, wrote a letter to president Ambaraya Ashtagi stating that according to the direction, the meeting had to be postponed. Mr. Anbukumar, who went to the meeting hall, told the president that he could not participate in the meeting in view of the Government’s direction.
The two-day exercise by the Congress leaders, led by the former Minister Sharanabasappa Darshanapur, to muster the required strength to gain a majority in all the standing committees went in vain. The agitated Congress-led group staged a dharna terming the decision of the State Government to postpone the meeting a “direct intervention in the functioning of the Panchayat Raj institutions and murder of democracy”.
Mr. Anbukumar was gheraoed by the angry Congress members when he went back to the meeting hall to meet the protesters.
Some of the Congress members were seen manhandling Mr. Anbukumar and preventing from leaving the venue. However, police officials headed by Additional Superintendent of Police Yellappa who were present on the scene intervened and prevented the situation from getting out of hand. The Congress members continued the dharna till evening.
Mr. Darshanapur condemned the action of the State Government and said that this was a clear case of misuse of powers to prevent the Congress from gaining a majority in the standing committees.
In the house of 64, the Congress and its associate members had mustered the support of 37 members.